Quality in healthcare means different things to different people (stakeholders), depending on their role in the healthcare system (funder, manager, deliverer or receiver, of care), expectations, experience and training, and ‘power’ in making and acting on healthcare decisions. Health service quality research is an exciting area for iCAHE researchers, because it requires an understanding of real-life healthcare delivery issues, and a willingness to explore qualitative and quantitative research methods to ensure that the research captures and considers all relevant perspectives.
There has been over 50 years of research internationally into what ‘quality’ means in healthcare, and how it can be best measured. This is because ‘quality’ means so many different things to different people, and because ‘quality’ in healthcare is not as readily assessed as the quality of more tangible products (eg clothing, food, dwellings, furniture etc). What is understood is that healthcare quality has multiple elements, as outlined in the Institute of Medicine model (safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, patient-centred, equitable).
iCAHE staff are passionate about improving the quality of health care (with a particular focus on allied health). Thus much of its research and product development has been directed at understanding stakeholders’ perspectives on the structures, processes and outcomes of healthcare, and providing tools that assist in quality improvement. The iCAHE resources aim to assist funders, managers and clinicians to identify the best evidence upon which to make healthcare decisions (eg the Guideline Clearinghouse, the iCAHE Journal Club, the Discharge Planning Resources). iCAHE has also invested heavily in providing resources to assist in measuring health outcomes in ways that demonstrate effective and efficient care (the iCAHE Outcomes Calculator [the software and its freely-available manuals]).